Why you should NEVER go into board game publishing!



hi guys i am joey vigor and i'm jeff sia tech and we are indeed board game publishers yes we are so everyone wants to make something and a lot of people ask about how do i make a game and how do i sell it to a publisher and stuff like that it's great to sell it to a publisher but it's really hard you won't get as much money sometimes and it takes a couple years of development and they don't really focus on it you're not the center of attention so it seems that all you have to do is publish it yourself yeah then you get all the money you get ball the money all the fame all the fortune and much more importantly a problem-free process since you're a complete noob to the industry so let's go back way back to 1992 was was total warrior first published game so total war and Pantheon were my first published games for game Smith's and we gang them together so we can save money which was smart and during the printing process there was the brochure which the printer reversed the blue and the yellow plates so that the brochure ended up this weird like puke colored color it doesn't make sense to let your face the face of your game look like hell so the question of course would be why don't you just haven't reprinted yes that's the answer that's the we are about 25 years too late for that but yes that would have been the right thing to do yeah so I guess this video is more about printing problems because I was gonna bring up throwing stones which was all probably was the first the first dice building a first ever collectible dice game throwing stones we be dragon dice to market by a couple of months and throwing stones was great but the dice they were painted on and we used this metallic Fleck paint which was really cool but the metallic Fleck tended to catch on things in tennis so would rub on rub off so I would have when I was doing the demos this is in 95 or 96 I was doing demos people had shake the dice and they shake him if they shook him too much the – speed bike when they threw I had this in my initial order I had one company in Florida order almost 90% of my run so I ordered a reprint and then shipped off 90% of my stuff to Florida and then the reprint came in and then the stuff from Florida came back because the people in Florida said what's this you sent us all this product and I said that's how much you ordered and they said oh well because of allotment we assumed that you only get 10% of what you order so we ordered 10 times as much as we wanted so I said well I I don't know what allotment is but it sounds horrible well it was when Magic the Gathering was so popular that they would tell stores we're only gonna sell you 10% of what you ordered and so stores would order 10 times as much as they wanted so they get the right amount you know any way that this returns came back from Florida I said I didn't want them they said well we're not gonna pay you for them and they sent them back they arrived right about the same time that the that the second printing arrived so I ended up with almost twice as much product as I as I wanted as I really needed because the other thing I was dropping the ball on was marketing at that time so Oh at that time yes at that time that's the only time that's that one time in my career that I had marketing troubles oh yeah world conquerors so this is one where I told my printer I needed four different colored pawns and four different colored armies because in world conquerors you've got pawns to represent your generals and your rulers and get these cubes represent your armies so not thinking I needed to specify that those need to be the same color so I got black yellow blue and red four pawns and black yellow blue and green four cubes so they didn't match up so you didn't have pawns that match the the colors inside fortunately they were able to send me replacements and I only had a short run before they sent the rest of it and we got it solved what about a lipo wasn't lipo your most popular game I'm sure there's problems with like both well lifeboat in my initial print run we were putting it in this box that so it had that nice face as you could see the cover on the face and it was great but that split the deck into two bits and when you put them down into the box they would shuffle together and it was just terrible and people hated it with the love and hate cards that time's the colors because this is kind of purple it from one end of the print run to the other even on the same press that the color saturation will be brighter towards the beginning and the darker towards the end which is fine if they're all the cards are from the same approximate approximate writing yeah but if you get cards that are sorted from different ends of the print run which we printed our expansion cannibalism at the same time so what would happen is if you put the two cards next to each other you'd say oh that one's darker and that one's lighter if they're across the table it's hard to tell yeah I've I've had that problem I make promo cards from one printer for conventions and stuff like that but then the promo card it matches exactly the sample that I sent to the manufacturer of the promo card well that sample might have been from the beginning of the run where the the colors of the ink is really vibrant and saturated or may be from the end so essentially 80% of the people getting the the promo card if they were to look at it they'd be like okay this doesn't really match my game palaces which I love and I'm really excited about and it is really coming out and we have had every problem I could have imagined on it we from starting with with my additional idea for the game was it's about building things so I thought brick and stone and wood and what have you and I brought in an art director and he was doing a great job with it but the game looked not pretty so I was at without that art director so my friend took over zero director but in the ensuing two years she's moved to Dallas and then Florida and then back to Dallas so they had troubles matching the colors on that on the and molding the pieces for palaces they also had troubles with Chinese New Year delayed them a couple of times which takes a couple of years to do that they also had the Chinese government shutdown there their region because this the air quality was so bad so all production was shut down in there this is all verified by you I'm sure I don't and and then the one time they were quiet for about a month and a half two months and I was really worried now starting to send angry emails which is my strong suit is sending angry emails because it's not like I'm gonna fly to China and say hey I'm suing you um so anyway it turns out that my rep there had had a baby and she said that she wasn't supposed to tell me that she was having a baby because she didn't want to somehow some some sort of bad business break so radio silence is better yes I actually got samples I had them sent to Essen and I showed him off at Essen and they look great and then when I said okay I need the rest of my games now and they said oh we're very sorry we had a warehouse fire all of our workers are ok but we we need to start over on the project and by the way we really I'm gonna try it directly quote I wish with all my heart not to print this card again I wish with all my heart not to print this card again that brings us to the end out of our unwatchable extremely long video but anyone who's interested in manufacturing or being a publisher that this is the kind of stuff you're gonna have to deal with a lot of work it's a lot of details and if you don't know what you're doing you're gonna mess up a lot that's not all the problems but that's all the problems that we felt like talking about now thanks a lot have a good one you

5 thoughts on “Why you should NEVER go into board game publishing!

  1. I just created a deck builder card game. Just cards, so I don't expect too many problems (Well a few I am sure will pop up, but it doesn't have a lot of pieces, just cards), what do you recommend I do? I am playtesting still and will be adjusting it over the next few weeks and months but then I will be ready to find a publisher.. or publish myself which is terrifying!

  2. Are there production companies anywhere else in the world? I know China is the leading country in factory work, but it sounds like there are some serious troubles with going through them. From quality, to holidays, to simple incompetence. Is China just cheaper or something?

  3. Shame about the clickbate title! However I did enjoy the talk. As a long time game designer (for the mainstream market) I am now in 2018 going to produce my own games. And alot of the problems raised in this video regarding self production is a good heads up for any newbies coming into indie game design.

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